Benefits of Garden Shopping Locally

I’d like to take a moment during this hot month to talk about economic responsibility. So stay inside your airconditioned home and consider what you can do when shopping for your garden.

You have most likely read why shopping locally is good for your community’s economy. The bottom line is that for every dollar spent when shopping at a locally owned store, $.68 stays in your town where shopping at a chain or big box store, only $.43 remains.

When you begin to calculate this on a million dollars of sales, it adds up. $250,000 for every Million! 25% is Huge.

But there are many more benefits you and your garden will receive when you shop locally.

There are times when I recommend shopping for price. It goes without saying that a big box nursery can offer a plant for less money than your local nursery. There are plants they will carry that come from the same grower as those your local nursery uses. They may be the same plant, int the same size container but the big box will win in price.

IF you buy this plant soon after it arrives at the big box, and the price is reasonable, I would say go for it. Saving some money on more generic plants will allow you to buy more at the local store along with some specialty plants that you may not spend your money on!

However, if the plants have been around for a while in the big box, you will want to examine the plant’s health and make sure it has been kept nicely moist and in the type of sun, it needs to thrive. A cheap weak plant is not worth any amount of money you might save.

Here are a few reasons that may strike that chord to keep you shopping locally.

A local nursery will only bring in the plant species that will thrive in your area.

I have often seen a big box bring in plants in the wrong season or too early to plant or those that don’t belong in the climate where I live.

Additionally, local nurseries will offer a plethora of native plants for your area. Best suited to your garden, they will recommend plants that accomplish your personal goals. From easy-care to perennial bloomers to winter warriors, they will know what you need.

Local nurseries will often grow their own plants, especially annuals.

And they will buy their plants from local growers which the big boxes will not use. better-adjusted

Local nurseries grow plants in the same conditions where they will live their entire lives. Less transplant shock, no adjustment period to the local climate and even less transport time all will contribute to the plant’s health and therefore your garden’s and your happiness.

Plants will be cared for with personal attention.

A local nursery employs knowledgeable staff and trains them to increase their knowledge on plants, care and local conditions. The team will make sure the plants are watered as soon as they arrive. They will then be placed in the optimal location for their immediate health. They will be checked for pests and disease and cared for if there is a problem.

Plants waiting for their new home will be pruned to maximize their growth and blooming capabilities. They will be repotted when they outgrow their pots.

What you as a consumer gain

Your local nursery staff understands the microclimates and growing conditions where you live. Even within a state, there can be many climates. In Arizona, for instance, there are low and mid-level desert and 9,000’ mountains with significant snow and much colder temperatures. Not only will they ask where you live and know the best plants for your home, but they will also ask if you have any specific challenges at your home site due to waterways, slopes or rocky areas.

Do yourself and your neighbor a favor. Shop smart and shop Local. And while you are at it – go out to eat at a local restaurant!!

Thanks for sharing on your favorite social media site ~~~~~ Marylee ☺

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June Checklist for your Hot Container Garden

Late Summer Potted Garden with Crepe Myrtle

Tips for June in your Hot Garden Pots

Post On Your Fridge!


Extra Tips as June Starts Topping 100°F

Signs of Stress and Sunburn

Stress will be evident by wilting. Make sure the plants are getting enough water in the early morning hours. If you see wilted leaves in the afternoon, don’t rush out with the hose – check to see if the soil is still damp. If it is, it is heat wilt. Plants with broad flat leaves are more apt to experience this afternoon stress in sunny areas in the summer. Using the mist setting on your hose nozzle, mist water on the leaves (make sure the hose water is not hot) and they should recover by morning.

If the plant is still wilted in the morning before watering, it might be root bound. If the plant(s) has been in the pot for a few years, this is the logical conclusion. If it is a new plant, did you clean out all old roots at the bottom of the pot before planting?

Root Bound Soil or Plants

Now is not the time to change out the soil in the pots. It will add too much stress to the already stressed plant. Try to dig around the outside of the root ball and remove anything easy to pull out – old soil and even some roots. Add fresh soil and keep the pot well watered until fall when it is safe to repot the plant.

“Blast” Your Plants

I always teach people in my classes to jet spray their plants as often as possible. Read this post to learn why I insist on this habit and why it’s not so scary to do.

Happy Potting!

Thank you for sharing on your social media! ~~~~~  Marylee

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Potted Plants Stay Healthy with this Surefire Method

Cozy Nook to enjoy a cup of tea

Helping potted plants stay healthy can be challenging in hot, dry climates.  I think I first learned this tip in the Master Gardeners program. I adopted it in my garden and then added this sage advice to our weekly routine in all of our clients’ gardens. Of course, you don’t need to stop at just one jet spray a week. Daily would be great, especially during hot months and monsoon season.

Do this one thing to help your potted plants stay healthy

Jet spray on hose blasting plantsJet Blast Your Plants!

People who hear me say this in my container gardening classes look at me with much skepticism. Thankfully, usually, there is at least one convert in the room that can testify to the positive effect jet blasting has had on their plants, in particular  – roses.

Why You Should Blast Your Plants

  1. Jet spraying your plants will aerate them, providing more oxygen, movement and air within the plants. Plant movement aids in stem or trunk strength.
  2. Assists in preventing powdery mildew.
  3. Removes pests such as aphids and spider mites.
  4. Assists in removing spent flowers in self-deadheading plants such as Vinca.
  5. Cools the plants in hot summer months.

How to Jet Blast Plants

Don’t start jetting off new plants until you see new growth on them. Typically about two weeks after planting is a good time to start. Follow these directions to blast your plants safely. Blasting works for all kinds of flowers, shrubs, perennials and even cactus.

  1. Set your hose nozzle to the jet spray setting.
  2. Be sure the water is not hot. In the summer, do this in the early morning hours.
  3. Stand about four (4) feet from the potted plants.
  4. Aim the hose at the plants, not at the soil. Think of spraying across the plants.
  5. Spray the plants from all directions possible, hitting the underside of the leaves, across the buds and flowers.
  6. Take about 15 seconds per pot to accomplish this task.
  7. Repeat daily or as often as possible.

Why People are Reluctant to Blast Their Plants

Everyone I have ever spoken with about blasting their plants has been afraid even to try it. They feel they will break the plant, remove all the flowers and buds and destroy the plant.

You can trust me, though. We have used this technique on 1,000’s of pots regularly and never had a problem.

What People Say

  • My roses have never looked this good. Usually, my roses were spindly and unhealthy.
  • I have struggled during monsoon season with powdery mildew. When I started blasting my plants, I never had a problem!
  • Since I started blasting my plants with my hose, the garden has looked more healthy, flowers bloom more profusely and everything is just happier!

 

Thank you for sharing on your social media! ~~~~~  Marylee

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To Drip or Not to Drip – Gain Time and Beauty in your Desert Potted Garden!

Homeowners do have the best intentions. We create beautiful container gardens and promise ourselves we will water our pride and joy faithfully. Living here in the desert can mean watering daily. And in the severe heat, we have much of the year, when we miss a day; it is likely that our beautiful flowers are toast. Needing consistent watering is where adding a drip irrigation line for your potted garden would be beneficial.

90% of Plant Failure in Hot and Dry Climates is Due to Inappropriate Watering

If this sounds like you and you continually have your potted gardens dying, the most reliable way to keep your pots healthy is to water them automatically with a dedicated irrigation valve and timer.   When I first added a drip irrigation system to my home pots, I began saving an hour a day not having to hand water!

Two Methods to Add Irrigation to your Pots

Method 1: Dedicated Line for Pots on your existing system

Preferred: You have two options for automatically watering your pots. The preferred method is through an existing irrigation system. If your  timer can accommodate a new valve and run times, you can use it.  Pots typically are watered five to ten minutes a day during the hot periods of the year. You do need to put in a dedicated valve for your pots.

Not Recommended: If you are tempted to hook your pots up to your landscape line, they will be getting one to two hours twice a week or so. A run-time of an hour or more is excessive water, and you risk losing your plants and the pots from the abundant water and “erratic” watering schedule. This may mean you have to have another valve put in at the expense of $500 – $1200 when installed by a professional but well worth it when you think of the value of your time and materials you buy for your gardens that potentially die quickly.

The beauty of a good timer is that you can change the run time in one-minute intervals. The timer can set for 5 minutes and then adjusted by one-minute increments until your pots are getting the right amount of water. Additionally, if the water is running through the pots too fast, you can run it for a shorter period and more often during the day.

Method 2: Battery-Operated Timer

If you are unable to put a potline into your landscaping system, an alternative is to add a y-valve to a hose bib near the location of the pots and connect them to a simple battery-operated timer.  These timers are inexpensive and typically allow for many start times. A good timer will cost between $30, and $50 and the rest of the parts will run less than $100 depending on how many pots you have.

What I mean by a good timer is one that can be set at one-minute increments. Some of the less expensive models only have a spin dial that is limited to five to 30 minutes increments. This will never do for container gardens.

A battery-operated system is an excellent solution for vacation time too! You can set something up for pots clustered in a part-sun area and ensure they receive adequate water while you are away. I still recommend that you have someone check on them to make sure nothing has gone awry.

Just be sure to change the batteries twice a year and do not wait for them to run out. Daylight savings time is an excellent way to remember – and while you are at it, change the batteries in your smoke detectors too!

Adjustable Emittor on Stake is great for pots

An Adjustable Emittor on a Stake works perfectly in your pots

Regardless of which method you use, you want to use the right emitters for your pots. An adjustable emitter on a stake is my preferred method. The outpInline emittor on laser 1/4" lineut of water is in patterned like wheel spokes and is adjustable from about 4” – 10”. In larger pots, you would use two or three emitters, each off their own ¼” line.

Another option is an in-line emitters spaced every 6” on a 1/4” line. These lines will need a longer run time to water your pots thoroughly, but they do work well with gardens that require a slower water delivery. Test your system by running it for 5 to 10 minutes. After watering, the soil should be thoroughly wet, with some water draining out through the container’s drainage hole. If water floods out, you have run it too long; if no water comes out and the soil isn’t thoroughly moist, you need to run the system longer or change to more emitters. Most controllers allow you to run the system several times a day, which is particularly useful in our hot climate.

The best bet is to give it a try and adjust the timer and emitters to provide your pots with consistent water. Get this done and enjoy your garden oasis with the newfound time you have gained!

There is much more to be written about irrigation and watering your container gardens. Stay tuned as I write more posts. However, if you have a question now, please email me right away or comment in the section below.

Pots with winter flowers in blues, white and yellow

The end of a great season – with Drip Irrigation for Pots!

 

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Loving Volunteers in Our Garden

We’ve all had them. Plants that sprout up in places we never planted them. It’s not so hard to figure out — grass in the flower patch, dandelions in the lawn, clover in the vegetable garden. Most likely, in these cases, the plants would be called weeds.

Weeds – my definition of a weed is any plant that comes up in a place you don’t want it to grow. I probably learned that from another long-time gardener friend.

So even a popular plant such as an Oak tree that comes up in the middle of the groomed lawn of your front yard could be called a weed.

Now, if you want to grow an Oak tree, once the ‘weed’ has its second set of leaves, you can transplant it to a pot and later to the desired location in your yard. In that case, it is a perfect volunteer plant.

Seeds are spread by the wind, dropped by birds, carried in the compost pile or merely fall from plants last season. These unintended plants either add chores or whimsy to your garden. Even unplanned, a volunteer can add color, food or structure to your garden.

A Pain in the Neck

Large planting of purple Ruellia

Ruellia brittoniana – Mexican Petunias

I prefer focusing on the positive side of life, but I experienced the invasion of a plant I once put into a pot. Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ or Mexican Petunia.

I was drawn by the purple color of the flowers and the three-foot height that gave stature to the pot. Before I knew it, Ruellia plants were coming up all around the pot. We quickly removed them as they were unwanted.

But next season, there were Ruellia everywhere, and the neighboring beds became root bound with the deeply rooted plant. They already had taken hold of the soil and were miserable to deal with.

(Side note: I have recently heard that some new cultivars have been developed that are showing to be far less invasive. Look for Ruellia MayanTM)

The Positive Side of Volunteers

Self-Seeding Annual Flowers

Many volunteers are in the category of self-seeding annuals. These volunteer Alyssum is a familiar example and were a delightful and fragrant surprise one winter in Tucson.

The containers on the wall were full of the little flowers. Watered by irrigation, the runoff would drain onto the ground on the outside of the walled patio. Lit by a western sun, the seeds readily germinated and provided casual passersby a special show.

Volunteers Add Whimsy to your Garden

In this narrow garden of an urban townhome, the owner created a postage stamp garden where she could go out, feed the birds and enjoy nature and the peace it provided while living a hectic city life.

Volunteer flowers have popped up around the pots grabbing for the water provided by the pot irrigation runoff.

This creates a woodland retreat – all that is needed is a comfy chair.

How you look upon volunteer plants is up to you. They can be seen as a treasure or a gift from nature – such as a volunteer watermelon that springs up from the seed of an unharvested fruit of the previous season.

Once I had a volunteer snapdragon sprout in my hanging, succulent wreath. What a surprise! It stayed small due to the limited root space and low light. But there it was!

 

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Flower Beds in your Garden

A Raised Bed of Flowers in Scottsdale AZ in the winter
The Potted Desert Logo
The Potted Desert Logo

 Winter Blues and Yellows in a Raised Bed

Flower beds are great for all planting seasons no matter where you live.

But here in the desert, we can enjoy beautiful beds 365 days a year!

This winter bed is filled with Dusty Miller and White Allysum. The all-white bed shimmers in the morning dew when kissed by the sun.

The same bed in the spring with Yellow Daisies

Here is the same bed in the summer. Now filled with yellow daisies and burgundy Celosia, it dares the summer heat to interrupts its blooms.

Fast Tips for a Flower Bed

  1. Choose an area that gets the amount of sun that matches the types of flowers you prefer.
  2. Remember the sun shifts through the year – Pay Attention!
  3. Use quality soil that your local garden store recommends. If it is a small bed, use potting soil. If your bed is large, it will be costly to use potting soil. You can use garden soil for the base and add  4-6 inches of potting soil on top.
  4. Follow the same planting techniques I recommend for your pots.
  5. Plan how you will water your bed. If using drip irrigation, a landscape line will not provide the correct amount of water. You might be able to cheat off a grass line or put in a dedicated line for the bed. We have worked with the schedule of a pot line.
  6. Plan for critters! If you know they exist in your neighborhood, practice one (or all!) of these techniques:
    1.  Fence in the garden
    2. Use critter resistant plants
    3. Get a dog

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A New Year Resolution for your Desert Garden

Most of us attempt to make New Year resolutions or reflect on the successes of the past year and think about what we want for the next year. In our gardens, we can make many different kinds of resolutions such as: 

~ to work consistently in my garden, deadheading, planting and fertilizing 

~ to add a water feature to my garden 

~ to create a new garden 

~ to add a new patio or shade area to my garden 

~ to add and care for a sustainable garden with veggies & herbs 

Etc, etc, etc!!! 

So often as I speak with desert transplants and ask them how they use their patio, the answer is that they don’t. We have chosen to live in the beautiful desert climate and the winter months in the valley is the perfect time to be outside and take in all that you have done to create a beautiful environment around you. Enjoy this easy resolution for many years to come!!

My suggestion for your New Year’s Resolution is to

Resolve to spend more time in your garden (or on your patio) enjoying your oasis in the desert

Happy New Year!

 

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Coloring a Shady Entry for Your Holiday Potted Garden

Do you have a front door that is crying for some easy-care color? This pot arrangement might just do the trick, especially for your holiday potted garden. For instant gratification, as the nurseries should be spilling over with Cyclamen, Geraniums and Bacopa in the greenhouse.  

Choose a pot that is at least 18” in diameter. I prefer you go up another 2-4” but see what you like that you want to use for the holidays. Fill the bottom of the pot with your favorite potting soil (after making sure you have a good drainage hole and that you cover it with a screen or coffee filter) and add some time-released fertilizer. 

Decide if the pot will be seen just from one side or all around and plant in the following order back to front, or center out.  

The Thriller

First, take the Butterfly Iris out of its nursery container and be sure to loosen up the roots as they are usually packed. A Fortnight lily will work just as well but as the plant matures, the leaves become much broader and I prefer the “grassy” appearance of the Iris. Plant the Iris in the back or center of the pot. 

The Filler

Look for Cyclamen or Geraniums in gallon containers that are already eight inches tall. Decide if you want all red or a mixture of red and white. If you buy gallon plants, you will need three. If quart or 4” plants, buy a total of 5. 

Plant the Cyclamen (if planting front to back you only may need three) closely around the Iris. 

The Spiller

Variegated Vinca (either gallon or six packs is what you will most likely find.) is a ground cover but works especially well in pots as a trailing plant. You will need to remove stubborn stems that insist on growing vertically but soon you will have a nice cascading effect for your pot.  

Another option for warmer areas is Bacopa (Bridal’s Wreath). I recommend you get the equivalent of two 1-gallon plants. This would be three 4” or on the off chance you find the Vinca in six-paks, get one but just plant three individual plants.  

Then take your Vinca or Bacopa, keeping the trailers on the outside of the pot and fill in between the Cyclamen.  

Add soil as needed to snug up and the plants and water in well. 

Care

These plants do nicely with a strong hose spray to keep problems of powdery mildew and insects at bay. Also, spray with a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks for nice growth. Cyclamen do not like their feet continually wet so be sure to not overwater. 

Place the pot outside your front door if it is in the shade or on a shady covered patio in front of your window to enjoy indoors and out! It would look very nice on a stand or table to raise it closer to eye level. You will find you only need to water the pot every few days as all of these plants have low to moderate water needs once established. 

If you feel in a decorating mood, you can add some holiday décor on stakes to the pot, put some glass beads around the base with some blue gray river rock or add a couple more smaller pots with some white or red cyclamen in them. If you find you have any dirt showing around your plants, add some sphagnum moss to cover it and dress the pot up more. 

Each of these plants are perennials however, if it gets cold in your area, the Bacopa may need to be treated as an annual. I have Bacopa growing in my carport yard year-round and some has lasted for three years now! The cyclamen will stop flowering when it gets hot but you can plant something else around it in the summer and then spice up the fertilizer in the fall to get it to start flowering again. Eventually your iris will need to be divided – probably in two years. Then you can add it to another pot. 

If you are having a holiday party, feel free to bring the pot in but be sure to get it back outside soon. You don’t want to leave it inside more than a day.  

Enjoy! Keep this pot going and it will work for Valentine’s Day also! 

Happy Holidays!!

ps. It’s not too late to get a copy of my book! Click on my picture above and it will take you to the link.

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Getting Potted for the Holidays (potted GARDENS that is!!)

Life in the desert is grand. Having the benefit of year-round gardening, we can plant as little or as much as we want. As the holidays are upon us, with a bit of imagination, we can add to our home’s celebration by sprucing up our container gardens to our heart’s content. Another excuse to ‘play’ outside in our gorgeous weather! 

You have many options to add to the holiday luster in your pots. Let’s explore some ideas, and you can mix and match as you please. 

Seasonal plantings that last all winter – perfect for the holidays

Whether you lean towards permanent plantings in your pots such as shrubs or trees or if you mix it up with perennials or only have annuals, you can plant your holiday color scheme now and your gardens with the right care will last until the heat of the early summer returns. 

For your Sun Plantings, add Red and White Annuals such as: 

  • Petunias 
  • Million Bells 
  • Stock 
  • Dianthus – try the newer variety of Amazon, a supertall Dianthus) 
  • Geraniums (part shade too) 
  • Diaiscia 
  • Nemesia 
  • Snapdragons (Whites and Burgundy – no red) 
  • Alyssum 
  • Lobelia 
  • Pansies and Viola (Whites and Burgundy – no red) 

Shade Plantings – Red and White Annuals: 

  • Primrose and Cyclamen are your best bets in full shade. Filtered sun is an excellent place for geraniums.  
  • Paper Whites, Poinsettias and Amaryllis are great nursery plants that you can use in pots during the holidays. If there is a dip in temperatures to 40° or below, you will want to bring them inside.

Advice for flower shopping:

Grab a cart at the nursery and an empty flat or carton and place your selections on the flat and then step back and look at it. Look at it hard and long and be sure it sits right with you. A 24” pot with one central planting will need approximately fourteen (14) “4” inch” plants. If you select any gallon plants, they can replace 3-4 smaller ones. I urge you to use 4” plants and not six-packs. 

 Important: When you go shopping and bring your plants home, water them in well and plant as soon as possible – as in the same day. If you have to wait until the next morning, place them in the shade to rest until the morning.

Permanent plantings 

Your existing shrubs or trees can stand alone as holiday décor. Heavenly bamboo leaves will turn red. Red-tipped Photinia’s new growth is red so if you fertilize it now, you might force it into growth resulting in those showy leaves just in time for the holidays.

Pyracantha and English Holly have red berries showing off right in time for your parties. Burgundy cordyline is another plant that can bring holiday cheer when decorated with other plants or objects.

Speaking of objects, take some of your decorations and embellish the plants. Use small holiday lights, bows, garlands, ornaments, pine cones or anything that catches your eye as you ‘deck the halls!’  


A Perfect Gift for the Holidays for any Gardener

A few members of our online community told me how they love my book, Getting Potted in the Desert. Get Marylee's Book, Getting Potted in the Desert Today!They have given the book as a gift to family members, the person who watered their plants while they were on vacation, their hair stylist who loves to garden and their friend who insists she has a black thumb. I’ve also had designers and realtors give my book to clients who are new to the desert or just are avid gardeners! I am blown away by the interest that continues for my book.

You still have time to order your copy or pick up a copy in Tucson or Albuquerque. Click on this link for the information. And Thank YOU. There is no better praise for an author than another book sells.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmailby feather

Using Color in Your Desert Potted Garden

Desert Patio Garden with Blues and Yellows


Receive these free tips in your Inbox – Fill out the box in the column to the right and receive Marylee’s Top Tips to Desert Potted Garden Success!


 

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder… sometimes 

Color is the most prominent element in a garden design and typically the first one considered. Color is what draws us into a garden and often is what gets us out of the house onto our patio.  

When driving down the boulevard and you approach a bed of flowers, what draws your eye in? Color!! What I have experienced is that the first image of that bed is described as pretty. But when stopped in traffic and I have the time to really look at the garden, something clicks in my mind that this is just not working. What first is viewed as fun and exciting, can become exhausting when you sit with your coffee or cocktail ready to relax after a long day. 

 

Too many colors makes a potted garden too busy

Why doesn’t it work? Too many colors in one garden! 

Purple Osteospernums, Red Dianthus, Blue Pansies, White Allysum, and more – Oh My!


In choosing color combinations, we know what we like when we see it. However, sometimes we think a color combination will work when we choose the flower colors at the nursery but once they are home and planted, we wonder – what did I do wrong? 

We tend to buy what we like in the store. The rainbow of colors and shades attracts our attention and unless we have a ‘color agenda’ we don’t put the brakes on and try to coordinate our selections.

What not to do in your pots – Yellow Violas, Orange/Burgundy & White Snaps, Purple, Purple/White, Burgundy, Orange Pansies, White Allysum

Take a Moment

Step back to plan your potted gardens.  

I always suggest putting the plants that will go in one pot together on your shopping cart and then step back to look at them. Look long and hard. Stare at your combinations and see if it works as you view it with your critical eye. 

Ahhhh, such a difference. Yellow in Calendula, Violas and Nemesia, Blue in Pansies and White in Kale. With a Burgundy/Yellow Center Diascia.

Combining Color in your Desert Pots this Winter 

  1. Start with two colors that you also use in the room inside your home. Choose the room that also has a view of your pots.
  2. Add a contrasting color if you would like.

For instance, if your home is decorated in earth tones of rustic oranges, browns and green, begin with an orange. Green will enter the picture with leaves and stems. Then add either purple or yellow depending on how exciting or vibrant you want your color combination to be. 

Another example – if your room is decorated in primary colors, choose something like the blue and yellow and perhaps add red as shown in the lead photo above. 

The key is to put your plants together and if you like them – try it!  

The beauty of using potted gardens is that you can easily change your mind, try new combinations or take out one plant and substitute another without breaking the bank. Keep your money out of the compost heap – Happy Potting! … Marylee

I hope you stay in touch with me!

Feel free to send me your questions.

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Getting Potted In
The De
sert Book

Marylee Pangman shares her wealth of information gained from 20 + years creating successful Potted Gardens in the Desert